Review Summary: While having a number of cool tunes, some songs drag down an album that could have been truly excellent. Manfred Mann's Earth Band
is a pretty unknown hard rock/prog rock band led by South-African keyboardist Manfred Mann who had a pretty successful solo career in the 60s. Vastly changing music style from R&B to hard rock, he still gets the hang of it without fumbling around too much. Messin'
blends lots of different genres such as classic blues, metal, folk and prog into a mess. Fortunelately, it doesn't turn out too bad.
provides a greater listen than its predecessor. It's got tighter production and more experimental musicianship. They are standing on higher ground here and proving who's boss. Without question, the strongest track here is both opener and title track. It has complex musical passages, mood changes, tempo changes and cool riffs. Clocking at 10 minutes, it's definitly the album highlight. Simply not a dull moment. However, other songs such as "Buddah" aren't overshadowed by it. "Buddah" is also a cool song with moog usurping the throne and catchy vocals and riffs.
Unfortunelately, the album suffers from being inconsistant with covering tracks from bluesy Bob Dylan to folky Dr. John Craux. "Get Your Rocks Off" and "Mardi Gras Day" just seems like mistakes. They are average rockers that should have been dropped from the track listing in favor of original self-written tracks (which not surprisingly are the best). Another mere good song is "Cloudy Eyes". This is an example of something that could have been much greater, if it only got to be polished and refined. As written in the album liner notes, the song was written for a rock opera, but was discarded and brought here. "Black and Blue" is written by band friends and is a strange choice. Being a mix of heavy, classic blues and rock it contains some awkward lyrics like:
I been working so hard my back's near broke/
My brows are wet, my throat's a-choke
However, the musicians are doing just fine, and doing a great job. In the front is Manfred's keyboards and synthesizers. He uses them scarse, but effectively. Instead of doing virtueso work like Wakeman or Emerson style, he tries to cope with other band members resulting in a more drawn back position. Guitarist Mick Rogers is perhaps the most important member in terms of sound. His guitar is always shining and he plays the guitar loud and aggressive. Same goes for drummer Chris Slade. He delivers pounds in form of loudness and agressiveness. On the other hand, bassist Colin Pattenden is overshadowed, and his bass is not tuned high enough and gets drowned out.
Despite some lame covers, the album provides a nice experience and is not to be forgotten in the ocean of so many others. If not listening to the album in one go, at least listen to the title track and "Buddah". These tracks are very entertaining and are classics on their own.